Skip to main content

26-04-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Obesity not linked to acute asthma severity in children


Free abstract

MedWire News: Obesity is common among children with acute asthma exacerbations attending hospital emergency departments (EDs), but the severity of attacks is not associated with body mass index (BMI), research shows.

“There are consistent epidemiological data that confirm the relationship between obesity and asthma diagnosis in children and adolescents,” explain Carlos Camargo (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA) and team.

They add: “Several studies have also evaluated the association of obesity with chronic asthma severity and control in children; however, prospective studies of the association of obesity with acute asthma severity have been limited to adults or critically ill children.”

The researchers therefore studied data on 672 acute asthma patients, age 5–17 years, who attended 44 hospital EDs in the USA and Canada between 1997 and 1998.

Each patient’s BMI and Pulmonary Index score were calculated in the ED. Obesity was defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for age and gender.

The researchers report that 23% of the patients were obese, compared with a reported obesity prevalence of 9–15% for children in the general population around the time of data collection.

However, there were no significant differences between obese and non-obese children regarding acute asthma severity or chronic asthma severity.

Indeed, Pulmonary Index scores were similar at 3.7, 3.8, and 3.7 in underweight, intermediate, and obese patients, respectively. The proportion of patients that required hospital admission was also similar among these three groups, at 22%, 22%, and 23%, respectively.

Stratifying the patients by age group and gender did not affect these results.

Camargo and team conclude: “The results of this study suggest that asthma exacerbations among obese children are very similar to those experienced by other children.”

They add: “Further elucidation of differences in the asthma phenotype of obese compared with non-obese children may help to improve diagnosis and control of asthma in this important subset of patients.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

Related topics